‘It beats you down’: 2019 ASUC candidates talk campaign challenges

ASUC elections tabulations ceremony
Joshua Jordan/File

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The rapidly approaching end to the 2019 ASUC elections will bring with it an end to campaigning and the challenges that accompany it, including balancing work and navigating the bureaucracy of the ASUC.

Candidates across party lines struggle to maintain successful academic lives and satisfy their basic and financial needs while running ASUC campaigns. Several ASUC candidates added that running independently without help from a major campus party can pose additional difficulties.

Student Action senate candidate Haazim Amirali said balancing classes with campaigning is a struggle for all ASUC candidates. He added that previous candidates advised him to take a lighter course load while campaigning to account for the extra responsibilities that come with running a campaign.

“It beats you down,” Amirali said. “I’ve seen so many candidates’ breakdown points.”

Similarly to other ASUC candidates, Amirali is currently employed. Because of the rigors of campaigning, Amirali said he has missed several of his regular paid hours at the Intramural Sports office — instead, he said he finishes his work from home, getting at most five hours of sleep each night.

Amirali is not alone in facing these campaign challenges. CalSERVE presidential candidate Teddy Lake currently holds two jobs — a campus work-study job and a part-time job at the Disney store in San Francisco. Calling the ASUC campaign process “elitist,” Lake added that she has been forced to dip into her personal savings account to promote her campaign and “do what it takes to win.”

To combat this issue in the future, Lake said she would like the ASUC to introduce bipartisan contracts that set limits on spending and hard campaigning on Sproul Plaza to make the process more accessible.

According to Elections Council chair Shirin Moti, the council offers extra office hours with the elections prosecutor and auditor and individual appointments to candidates who “need extra support.”

Presidential candidate Wyatt Colby said the main issue he has faced this elections season is running independently, adding that running with a party makes it easier to “get your name out there” when it comes to student engagement.

Amirali noted that there are both advantages and disadvantages to running with a party. In his experience running with Student Action, however, he said he believes he has received more mentorship and coaching than candidates running independently have.

“Our small group was limited to the contacts we personally had when we started campaigning,” said independent senate candidate Eatone Cheng in an email. “We didn’t have much time to even come close to matching the main parties’ ability to get their candidates’ names out there.”

Earlier this semester, the ASUC Elections Council denied independent senate candidate Jasmine Sheena’s campaign after she failed to pay the $5 filing fee in time.

“As an independent, I’ve had to figure this out all by myself,” said Sheena, a former news reporter for The Daily Californian, during an Elections Council meeting. “I don’t think it’s fair to kick me out over $5.”

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.